These thumbprint cookies are perfect for a healthy and filling on-the-go breakfast or after-school snack. Whole wheat and oat flours plus whole oats and almond butter give them heft. Fruit spread adds a touch of color and sweetness. Use your personal fav or an assortment to please the whole family. An added bonus of the ‘assorted approach’ is the possibility of a lovely cookie rainbow as pictured here! Also in this week’s post… Jam vs. Jelly vs. Preserves: What’s the Difference Anyway?
I prefer JAM to jelly any day so let’s start with that! Jam is made with crushed or chopped fruit which is cooked with sugar until the pieces soften. During the cooking process, the water evaporates out of the mixture causing it to thicken. Jam may also contain pectin to help with the thickening process. Pieces of fruit will likely be present in the final product.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration, US) is pretty darn serious about their jam. There are different minimum fruit to sugar ratios depending on the fruit being used. Pits, seeds and skins do not count toward the required weight of the fruit. The FDA also requires a soluble solids tests which uses a refractometer to test the sugar content, which must be at least 65%.
Next up is JELLY. The gelatinous texture has always grossed me out and I can’t even remember the last time I ate same of this stuff. But to each their own! Jelly typically uses more pectin than jam giving it a more gel-like texture. The cooking time is also longer than that of jam recipes in order to extract as much fruit juice as possible. The fruit is completely filtered out giving jelly its translucent appearance. Products labeled ‘jelly’ must contain at least 55% fruit juice to be sold in the US.
PRESERVES is often used as a blanket term to describe fruit spreads but may refer to a specific type. Large chunks of fruit or even whole fruit is cooked in sugar until soft like jam. Afterwards the pieces are jarred in a firm jelly or syrupy base.
These are the main 3 types of fruit spreads available on the market but some oddballs do exist.
Conserves are jams made from more than one type of fruit. For example, a jam made with strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Nuts and dried fruit may also be added.
Marmalade is a soft jelly that contains pieces of fruit rinds, generally citrus. Citrus peels contain a high amount of pectin making the thickening process easier.The flavor is both sweet and sour and the rind lends a sightly bitter taste.
Fruit Curd is a dessert topping made with egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest. Some recipes include egg whites or butter. The ingredients are cooked together until thick and allowed to cool, creating a thick fruit spread with an intense flavor. Lemon is a popular flavor.
Fruit Butter is not jellied at all, instead relying on the natural body of the fruit to create thickness. The pulp of the fruit is cooked with sugar for a long period of time to allow more water to evaporate. Fruit butter is usually made with fruit with low moisture content. In fact, the FDA only products derived from eight specific fruits to be labeled fruit butter: apples, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, prunes and quince.
Chutney is an Indian relish consisting of fruit, spices and herbs. Mango is a popular flavor.
Aren’t we feeling so knowledgeable about fruit spreads? Follow the links below to make some of your own and be sure to check out the cookie recipe, too!
Oat n’ Almond Thumbprints
½ cup almond butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 cups old-fashioned oats
About 1 cup total of jelly, jam or preserves.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Cream butter and sugars.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Beat in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture.
Mix in oats.
Drop onto greased cookie sheet by teaspoons.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden.
Remove from cookie sheet after 2 minutes.
Make indent in center of each cookie with thumb or shot glass and then allow to cool completely.
Fill completely cooled cookies with jam of choice.